Free Agent Frenzy

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July 24, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Khalid Bennett

It’s rare seeing one person influence other people. It’s rare seeing how one person can cause other people to make their own decisions. It’s rare seeing how one person can influence an organization, where people wait on bated breath for his next move.

Well, LeBron James did that.

It’s been about two weeks since LeBron James announced that he would be returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m not too surprised that he’s coming home. In fact, I didn’t really care too much when he made the announcement. I was more interested in the aftermath of the announcement; hence the free agency. The NBA pretty much was on hold waiting for LeBron James to say something. It was amazing how everyday on SportsCenter analysts and reporters were panicking because they really didn’t know what LeBron was going to do. The big free agents this summer couldn’t make a move until LeBron say something. It’s amazing how his decision impacted so many moves within these last couple of weeks.

Let’s take a look at the big free agent moves.

Miami Heat

It’s obvious that the Miami Heat went downhill once LeBron decided to go to Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t still a contender in the weak Eastern Conference. Who was going to replace the future Hall of Famer? Well Luol Deng, of course. Okay, he’s nowhere near LeBron but the Heat are going to need a starting small forward and that’s who they went for. Since LeBron is gone, is it Dwyane Wade’s team again? Not necessarily. Wade did opt out, but is returning on a 2-year contract. Apparently, it’s now Chris Bosh’s team. Everyone figured he was going to Houston but Miami signed him for 5-year/$118 million. For someone who was considered “the third guy”, is he really worth that much? With the addition of Josh McRoberts, the roster remains the same (for now). Expect the Miami Heat to contend but they won’t be the beast of the East now that LeBron is gone.

San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs just keep on winning. As a Tim Duncan fan, I’ve always admired the Spurs and their winning tradition, and they did it once again by dominating the Heat. They say it’s all about the fundamentals and the Spurs did it with fundamentals and more. As successful as a team they were, they had free agent questions. Patty Mills made his name coming off the bench and providing a lot of punches. He’s back with the Spurs. The point forward/center Boris Diaw was a key component for the Spurs this year, he’ll be back as well. They even re-signed the Red Mamba aka Matt Bonner, who rarely even played. But he’s the only person on the roster (outside of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) that has been with the team the longest. With one draft pick, the team will probably be the same and can probably repeat as champions with the insane Gregg Popovich running the tables.

Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference is still weak but retained some big players. LeBron James may have been the headliner but Carmelo Anthony got some attention as well. The Rockets, Lakers, Heat, and Bulls were all suitors, but just as expected, he decided to stay with the New York Knicks. Once again the Knicks will have another new roster and should have a better year. The Bulls always seem a team to go far but never do. They got Pau Gasol and booted Carlos Boozer. Other than that, it’s basically the same team, assuming Derrick Rose comes back. The Washington Wizards were a surprise in the playoffs, almost knocking out Indiana. They re-signed the Polish Hammer aka Marcin Gortat. They did lose Trevor Ariza but gained Paul Pierce. They’ll definitely be back in the playoffs. The Pacers did lose Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets, and let’s not forget the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao will also be on the starting lineup with LeBron. Mike Miller and James Jones decided to join the bandwagon. Also, they are going after Kevin Love. The Cavaliers are favorites to win the East but it’s still too weak to face anyone in the dominating Western Conference.

Western Conference

Speaking of the Western Conference, there are definitely going to be a good number of teams that can win the West and probably the title. The Dallas Mavericks got a big steal; they were able to get Chandler Parsons. I always thought Parsons was going to be that guy who would stay with a team his whole career and put up productive numbers. I think the Rockets lost somebody pretty good. Since the Rockets did lose Parsons, they gained Trevor Ariza, who could be an improvement. But, who knows? The Utah Jazz thought they were going to lose Gordon Hayward but matched Charlottes’ absurd offer. The Phoenix Suns were literally one game from the 8th spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. Channing Fyre left but still the team has improved this offseason with the acquisition of Isiah Thomas, assuming also Eric Bledsoe will sign. As for the Lakers, who would’ve thought THEY be the laughing stock in Los Angeles? They couldn’t get LeBron; they couldn’t get Carmelo. So, they got the next best thing, Jeremy Lin. And they picked up Carlos Boozer to replace Gasol. Don’t even get me started on them keeping Nick Young aka Swaggy P. Other than that, the West is pretty much the same and will be dominant again.

All of this happened after LeBron left for Cleveland. Would things have been different if LeBron stayed in Miami? Would things have been different if LeBron made his decision earlier? Would things have been different if LeBron was undecided up to this point?

This is just another example of how one person can influence everyone else. Oh, did I mention that LeBron James can opt out next year? Here we go again next summer.

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